introducing our new board members

January 30th, 2015

introducing our new board members

For those of you who have been riding along with us on this transit journey, we are excited to update you on our award-winning rapid transit initiatives as we begin 2015 and new stages of construction. This is an exceptionally exciting time for transit in Ontario, and in York Region. Over the next five years, we will be completing $3.2 billion of infrastructure, including rapidways in Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, a state-of-the-art Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility and more. We remain dedicated to building transit options that complement the future of York Region, knowing that everyone shares the benefits of these successes.

How do we do it? Here’s a bit of information about the governance structure and make-up of York Region Rapid Transit Corporation [YRRTC] and how we operate to deliver vivaNext plans. First, YRRTC is a 100% share capital corporation owned by York Region. Our rapidway projects are funded by Metrolinx [an agency of the provincial government], and our facilities and terminals are funded from a combination of federal, provincial and regional government sources. Our governance structure is well established through formal documents and legal agreements between YRRTC, York Region, the provincial government, the federal government and Metrolinx. These legal documents set the framework for how we work together and list the conditions of our funding.

YRRTC reports monthly to a board of directors – seven Mayors and Regional Councillors from Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Vaughan. Once appointed, they elected a Board Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and CEO. We welcome the new and returning board members:

Chairman - Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham Chairman
Frank Scarpitti
Mayor of the City of Markham
Vice-Chairman - Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mayor of the City of Vaughan Vice-Chairman
Maurizio Bevilacqua
Mayor of the City of Vaughan
Director and YRRTC CEO - Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York Director and YRRTC CEO
Wayne Emmerson
Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York
Director - Dave Barrow, Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill Director
Dave Barrow
Mayor of the Town of Richmond Hill
Director - Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket Director
Tony Van Bynen
Mayor of the Town of Newmarket
Director - Jim Jones, City of Markham Regional Councillor Director
Jim Jones
Regional Councillor, City of Markham
Director - Vito Spatafora, City of Vaughan Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor Director
Vito Spatafora
Regional Councillor/Deputy Mayor, City of Vaughan


Through monthly reports and other regular reporting tools such as business plans and annual reports, we seek direction from the board and keep them informed of project progress. These documents can be found in our website Document Library.

It’s complex, with multiple levels of government and representatives from different municipalities, but it’s a clean mission to collectively deliver rapid transit. And together we can continue to deliver these beneficial infrastructure projects to your community and ensure all needs and issues are addressed quickly and openly.


engineering for better traffic operations

January 22nd, 2015

engineering for better traffic operations

You may not know this, but the vivaNext segments already open or under construction involve much more than building a cutting-edge Bus Rapid transit [BRT] system. One of the goals is to support the improvement of York Region’s transportation network, so that it works better for all travellers whether they’re going by transit, foot, bike or car. But before improvements can be made, a lot of work needs to be done to identify the constraints and how they can be fixed. This is where the complex specialty known as “traffic engineering” comes in.

You might think all traffic problems stem from too many vehicles using not enough road space. In fact, it’s much more complicated than that. Effective transportation systems [including roads] have a direct impact on our quality of life and depend on a wide range of components to work well together so that people and goods can get around. Traffic can get bogged down when key pieces are outdated or poorly designed, whether they’re related to road layout, placement of intersections, speed, traffic signal timing, turning lanes or many other components.

Traffic engineering involves the analysis, design and planning of many of those technical components. As a discipline, it studies how traffic operates and flows, how roadways are designed and controlled, and how best to plan for future roadway networks and transportation systems to support future land use. This includes coordination of the many traffic lights and the length of time of each light.

The scope of components our vivaNext traffic engineers have analyzed, modelled and designed is very broad, and takes into account York Region’s future growth over the next many years. Well beyond the design of the rapidway, we’ve looked at many issues including the site, and users, of future developments; traffic speed and flow; parking; cycling facilities; impacts from the rapidway on right- and left-turning traffic; impacts on side-streets and neighbourhoods; safety for pedestrians and cyclists; traffic signs; signalized intersection design and equipment – to name a few. And all this analysis and modelling is done in conjunction with other work focused on transit priority measures and intelligent transportation systems.

There is a huge body of science behind the specialized discipline of traffic engineering which enables us to accurately model future impacts of design alternatives, allowing us to determine which approach will help traffic move best. With new technology, traffic controllers at York Region monitor major roads on an on-going basis using traffic cameras. And from time to time, they also go back to data collected from that very low-tech approach, of simply counting cars in order to keep everyone moving along smoothly!

At the end of the day, traffic engineers are key players in developing strategies that will improve the overall transportation network, and ensure that an ever-increasing number of users on foot, on a bus, riding a bike or driving a car – are able to get around as quickly and smoothly as possible.


introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

January 9th, 2015

introducing the newest vivastation in Markham

Introducing the newest vivastation in Markham…[drum roll please]…Cedarland Station! On Cedarland Drive just south of Highway 7, this new vivastation boasts all the comforts and conveniences of our previous stations, in an exciting up-and-coming location. Cedarland Station is located on the doorstep of condo developments underway, and within walking distance of major employers such as IBM, CDI, Hilton Hotel and City of Markham. One unique feature of this new station is that it’s on the south side of the road, instead of down the centre. This allows for a transition to Warden, and to the existing rapidway on the north side of Enterprise Drive. When making the turn onto Cedarland, drivers should be cautious that they are turning into the correct lane, as it is unusual.

Some finishing touches will be added in the summer to the rapidway near Cedarland Station, including a final top-coat of pavement, the sidewalk on the north side of Cedarland and trees and shrubs in the new planter boxes. With this section of rapidway connecting to the existing rapidway on Enterprise Drive, Viva customers can now travel over 35% faster, all the way from Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill to the Downtown Markham development area.

Now that rapid transit has arrived in Markham and Richmond Hill, it will help shape communities and manage growth for generations. The urban areas along Highway 7 East are now connected and everyone has attractive, walkable places and more travel choices for healthy community living.


happy holidays from vivaNext

December 23rd, 2014

Click here to see our holiday card - from us to you!

Click here to see our holiday card – from us to you!

We hope your plans this season include fun and relaxation, and celebrating with friends and family. We have plenty to celebrate after a productive year on all our projects.

Ringing in the New Year usually comes with a look back at the previous year, and some resolutions for the coming year. Our 2015 resolutions are all lined up in the form of goals for each project, and we’re proud to say that our 2014 accomplishments will give us the boost we need to achieve our 2015 goals.

A little rest and relaxation will help us prepare to keep up the momentum in 2015. For just a few days from December 25 to January 4, our offices will be closed.

Season’s Greetings to all and a Happy New Year – see you in 2015!


2014 – a year of action

December 18th, 2014

2014 - a year of action

As 2014 draws to a close, we’re pleased to say that each of our projects saw great progress this year. The Bus Rapid Transit projects start and end at different times so each has its own construction schedule to match the unique challenges, such as: length of rapidway, complexity of underground work, and landscape and infrastructure features like hills and bridges. As we progress through these challenges we consider them milestones, and after a year of milestones there are plenty of moments to look back on.

On Highway 7 East in Markham, the second stretch of rapidway opened from Highway 404 to South Town Centre Boulevard, and construction will be complete on the last piece to Warden Avenue by the end of 2014, with some finishing touches to add in spring 2015. This final section allows Viva customers to experience the future of rapid transit in York Region, from Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill to the Downtown Markham development area. Riders are already seeing up to 35% travel time savings on the rapidways.

In Newmarket on Davis Drive, utilities and telecommunications were relocated to prepare for road widening and building the rapidways in the centre of the road. Road widening continued and base-layer paving was also completed in sections along Davis. Significant milestones included: completing the structure of the Keith Bridge and reopening the Tom Taylor Trail, moving the Union Hotel into its final location and installing the steel structures for the first vivastation at Longford/Parkside. The glass canopies will be installed over the winter and the vivastations at Main Street and Southlake Hospital are also underway. It’s been a busy, messy year but crews are working quickly. We’re in the home stretch with the rapidway set to open December 2015.

Along Highway 7 West in Vaughan, the first phase of rapidways is well underway and a there has been a lot of progress in 2014. Between Jane Street and the CN Bridge, work continues on base-layer paving, building retaining walls and expanding the CN Bridge, and we’re almost done relocating some underground infrastructure. East of Jane Street, the road has been widened and traffic has been shifted, so that work in the centre of the road [including paving, installing vivastations platforms and canopies!] can begin in 2015. The contract for phase two of the rapidways in Vaughan will be awarded in 2015, adding dedicated bus lanes and vivastations from Edgeley Boulevard to Pine Valley Drive and from Bowes Road to Yonge Street [in blue on map]. While some pre-construction activities are already underway, construction is expected to begin in late 2015/early 2016.

On Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, the contractor is working to finalize the rapidway design and construction schedule. Meanwhile, crews are out conducting surveys and utility investigations to make sure we have an accurate record of what’s above and below the ground.

We’re also building a state-of-the-art Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility in Richmond Hill to act as a ‘home base’ for transit. This nine-acre, 481,679 square foot facility will be LEED® certified [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design], and is scheduled to be complete mid-2015.

Everyone’s busy making memories during the holidays, but we hope that you’ll have a few moments to see some of our videos that give you a sneak peak at rapid transit in York Region:

Where did it all begin? See the launch of curbside Viva service in 2005. Also see the vision for the transformation of York Region and some of the considerations given to the design of the rapidway vivastation, and take a peek inside the rapidway vivastations.

While you’re watching videos, why not find out what’s happening in your community:




from messy to marvelous – davis drive year in review

December 12th, 2014

Video: from messy to marvelous - davis drive year in review

It’s an exciting time as the transformation of Davis Drive has made significant progress and is starting to be seen along the corridor.

A lot of progress above ground was made this year and a number of milestones were achieved, all of which clears the way for 2015 and the last year of construction. We thank you for bearing with us through the mess and as we work hard to finish as quickly as possible.

Standing at Yonge and Davis, you can look down Davis Drive and see the installation of boulevards and planters. As you travel to your destination you’ll notice the decorative planters along with interlocking paving stones and concrete sidewalks in areas from Yonge Street to Longford/Parkside Drive.

Construction of the vivastation at Parkside/Longford and Davis is making great progress. The steel structure for the vivastation is in place and the glass for the canopies will be arriving soon.

Construction of two more vivastations at Main and Southlake Hospital are also underway.

The structure of the Keith Bridge has been rebuilt and the Tom Taylor Trail has been restored to its original location under Keith Bridge; which is located just past the GO train station.

VivaNext will be moving to the next phase of rapidway construction where station platforms, canopies and eventually rapid transit bus lanes will be built in the centre of the road. As a result, there will be permanent changes to how motorists use intersections, traffic lanes and access businesses along Davis. New traffic signals have been installed at Yonge, George and Barbara. Drivers can now make dedicated left-turns and U-turns where U-turn permitted signs are posted. From our experience on Highway 7, these new movements help the traffic flow smoother. For more information on these important changes please visit

We captured a number of these accomplishments on video and condensed them into a short clip for your viewing pleasure. The investment in modernizing our roads and revitalizing Newmarket’s infrastructure will go a long way to making sure Davis Drive is built on a solid foundation that will serve the growing needs of Newmarket for many decades to come. We look forward to the rapidway opening in 2015 and bringing Viva service to Davis Drive.

seeing the transformation unfold on highway 7 west

December 3rd, 2014

click here to see the video of 2014 Vaughan rapidway construction

we’ve been busy this year

Construction is well underway for the first phase of vivaNext rapidways in the City of Vaughan, and the transformation can be seen along Highway 7 West. Check out our latest video for an up-close look at the milestones we’ve accomplished this year. Although construction will continue throughout the winter months from Edgeley Boulevard to Bowes Road, here’s an update on the progress made in 2014:

  • Traffic has been shifted east of Jane Street to its final configuration, so that work in the centre of the road [including platforms and canopies] can begin in 2015.
  • As part of the 8-metre expansion of the Canadian National Railway [CN] MacMillan Bridge, we poured over 800 tonnes of concrete to create new columns and bridge pier caps.
  • Underground infrastructure revitalization continues – utility, telecommunications and storm sewer relocation is approximately 80% completed.
  • Road widening is completed and base-layer paving is 90% finished between Jane Street and the CN Bridge. Paving activities will continue in 2015.
  • In order to preserve the existing Black Creek and Hillside Culverts, retaining walls were built. In total, five retaining walls have been completed along the corridor with a few more set to get started in 2015.
  • Important traffic and pedestrian changes can be seen at several intersections. Motorists are benefiting from new turning movements and pedestrians now have two-stage crossings.

We know construction can be messy and disruptive at times, and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue the transformation. For up-to-date information on construction progress and activities, visit


building great cities

November 27th, 2014

Building Great Cities

York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy is how our Region is making sure there will be room for our growing population to live, work and play, while also protecting our sensitive lands and green zones. As our Region grows, new homes, workplaces, retail and recreational facilities are being established all along the corridors, and clustered in higher density centres in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Newmarket.  And to make it easier for people to get where they want to go, without always needing to get in their car, rapid transit corridors featuring Viva’s comfortable Bus Rapid Transit service will link those centres.

Centres and Corridors has been a key component of Regional Council’s strategic priorities, and the amount of development actively underway in all the centres shows that great progress is already being made. But what are the steps required behind the scenes, to create the kinds of communities that are taking shape in the centres?

The first step, and one that was approved long ago, is that Regional Council provided strategic direction confirming the Centres and Corridors plan as the foundation for the Region’s Official Plan.  The Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe reinforces the principles of increased intensification and city-building, and specifically identifies the four centres as “urban growth centres.”

Included in the Provincial Growth Plan are targets for the number of people and jobs to be supported per hectare. The Region’s Official Plan includes these targets, and also establishes policies to encourage transit, pedestrian-friendly street designs, and mixed-use development.

Building on the Region’s policies, each municipality then has to review their own official plan to make sure it conforms and supports the Region’s plan. Municipalities then develop secondary plans, which set out specific land use rules and targets for defined areas including the centres.  Secondary plans shape future development, providing guidance on minimum densities, building heights, streetscaping and other strategies to encourage welcoming, pedestrian-friendly development.

Once the general rules for land use have been developed, municipalities and the Region then actively work to attract new employers and development investments.  Economic Development experts work with their Planning Department colleagues and with potential investors, to create new or expanded work opportunities.  A key driver for many of the new employment opportunities that have already been announced in York Region is the proximity to rapid transit, and the availability of a strong, educated workforce.

And the last component of our multi-pronged approach is to ensure that new housing options are available all along the corridors and in the centres.  We know that people want to live relatively near to where they work, with a short commute being highly valued.  The new housing developments that are springing up near our vivaNext routes are already providing very attractive options for people wanting an urban home, with great access to transit and work.

City-building isn’t a short-term process, but with all these components working together, bit by bit our centres and corridors are being transformed into exciting, urban places, while protecting and respecting existing developments and our natural environment.  For everyone, that means more options, more choices, and linking it all together, more Viva.


newmarket’s union hotel has a new home

November 19th, 2014

newmarket’s union hotel has a new home

Rapidways are on the way to Davis Drive and to make room, the Union Hotel on the northeast corner of Davis Drive and Main Street has been moved to its new location at the back of the original property. It took careful precision and planning to move this old building to its permanent foundation and now it’s finally settled in. We captured the preservation of this important piece of history on video. Check out the full behind-the-scenes video to see how it was done.

Built in 1881, the Union Hotel is one of Newmarket’s many distinctive heritage buildings. Designed by local architect John Ough, it still has many of its original features, including mouldings, staircases and woodwork. Although it’s known as the “Union Hotel,” past owners include James Burke, who manufactured soda water here, Patrick Hodgins Sr., who used it as a store and residence, and more recently Robert Armstrong with a real estate business.

Relocating the Union Hotel ensures the gateway to Newmarket’s downtown heritage area is preserved.


design it, then build it – simple, right?

November 12th, 2014

design it, then build it - simple, right?

You probably know where we’re going with this. It’s not simple to design and build a major transportation project, but we’re getting better and better at it.

It starts with a consistent vision of a transit system that matches plans for the future by the Province and the Region. A plan for making the vision a reality comes next, as dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit – rapidways – connecting York Region’s key urban centres. It’s more than transit though, with designs including updated infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly, attractive surroundings. The 34 kilometres of rapidway and 37 vivastations are divided into design-build projects, based on funding and logistics. Closing roads entirely isn’t an option, so construction timelines are longer to allow for keeping lanes open as much as possible, and projects are staggered so that there isn’t too much work being done, all at once.

We select a contractor through a competitive bidding process. This is an important point in the project, because what is or isn’t included in the contract can impact the timing or costs of a project at a later point. We have highly-skilled engineering, construction and procurement professionals whose advice ensures we procure the project accurately and fairly. Even so, there are an enormous amount of details to consider, and every aspect needs careful thought. The procurement of each project has been tailored to its particular circumstances, and has improved on the project before it.

For the first rapidway project, Highway 7 East, the utility work and the design-build of the project were each coordinated by a separate contractor at the same time. The intention was for a quick build, but it was a challenge for two separate contractors to schedule intertwined work in the same locations.

For the next two projects, Davis Drive and Highway 7 West [Interchange Way to Bowes Road], the same contractor coordinated the utility work and built the project. This helped the contractor to schedule the work, although there were still unexpected elements underground to deal with, as is the case with most construction projects. The contract for the latter project, Highway 7 West, also included more requirements for utility coordination and recognition of timelines needed for permits and relocating utilities.

We recently procured the contractor for the rapidway on Yonge Street, and even more was done to ensure the project runs smoothly. A Subsurface Utility Engineering [SUE] study was fully completed before we even issued the RFP, and the results of the study gave bidders a better understanding of the existing infrastructure, preparing them for the utility work included in the contract. As with the Highway 7 West contract, timelines allowed for permits and utility relocation, and in this case they were fully scheduled. A requirement was also added for an Independent Quality Certifier [IQC] to make it easier to monitor and audit quality of work – previously this was a combined effort.

So building it isn’t simple, but each project has helped improve the next, and we’ve already built and put into service 11 vivastations and 6 kilometres of rapidway. Each project has unique features and challenges, but the end results are worth it… we hope you have tried the improved service on Highway 7 East, as Viva now travels in its own dedicated lane!